Pope Francis has made a series of controversial statements in recent months, and he is creating a backlash from prominent conservatives within the Catholic Church. Whether readers are Catholic or not, I think all Christians need to pay close attention to the comments of this latest pope.
First for some background. Pope Francis initially angered conservative Catholics when he made noncommittal comments about homosexual marriage. Since Catholic popes have always previously supported Catholic doctrines labeling homosexuality as a sin, Pope Francis’ comments were seen as the beginnings of a departure from the views of (apparently) all previous Catholic popes. The archbishop of Philadelphia blamed Pope Francis for causing “confusion” and added that “Confusion is of the devil.” A Cardinal who is the “head of the Vatican’s highest court” made an even stronger statement: saying “the Roman Catholic Church is a ‘ship without a rudder'” under Pope Francis. These are very strong criticisms for a new Pope from sources high in the Catholic hierarchy.
However, the above spat may prove to be nothing compared to Pope Francis’ latest strange comment. I hope he was misquoted, but the media is reporting that Pope Francis, in a discourse about God and evolution, stated that “God is not a divine being (first link).” Excuse me? Could he actually have said anything that heretical? Paradoxically, Pope Francis acknowledged God as the creator, even as he is cited as denying God’s divinity. He also made what sounds like a squishy endorsement of evolution in his statement. If Pope Francis denies God’s divinity, is this not rank blasphemy against God, the Bible and a rejection of all previous Catholic teachings and papal confessions? Pope Francis has made a very strange statement, if he was correctly quoted, and this development bears intense scrutiny. If he refuses to acknowledge God as a Divine Being, how can he even call himself a Christian? It is because of God’s status as a Divine Being that he is repeatedly described as “holy” in the Bible and “worthy of worship.” If God is not a divine being, then how can God claim any right to forgive the sins of sinning human beings? The Catholic Church has long claimed the Apostle Peter as its first pope. Peter’s views about God’s divinity are unmistakable. In II Peter 1:3, Peter wrote of God and of Jesus Christ: “According to his divine power hath given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness (emphasis added).” In II Peter 1:4 Peter wrote that believers, through Jesus Christ, are made “partakers of the divine nature [of God] (emphasis added).” So Peter confesses the divinity of Jesus Christ, the son of God, and Jesus confesses that God the Father was “greater” than Jesus was (John 14:28). Since Peter attributed divine status to Jesus Christ, “God” the Father is surely Divine as well. I wonder if Pope Francis realizes he has departed from the views of the Apostle Peter, who has always been claimed by the Catholic church as the first pope?
The second link offers to readers a variety of media perspectives on Pope Francis’ comments which were located via a web search. I invite readers to check out a number of them.
Keeping in mind that the pope may have been misquoted or the possibility that something was altered in translating his comments from Italian or some other language into English, two latter day prophecies come to mind after hearing Pope Francis’ rejection of God as a Divine Being. If he doesn’t even accept the Christian God of the Bible, who he claims to represent, as a divine being, then he apparently doesn’t acknowledge the divinity of the deities of any other non-Christian religion either. That thought reminded me of the latter-day prophecy in Daniel 7 in which Daniel sees events of the latter days in symbolic form and a heavenly personage makes known some of the vision’s meaning to him. In Daniel 7:25, it is prophesied that a person or power will arise which will “speak great things against the Most High [God]…” It does seem to me that for anyone, especially a top Christian leader such as the pope, who publicly declares that God is not a divine being, is making an utterance which fits the prophetic mold of Daniel 7:25. This pope needs to be watched if he makes any further declarations against God Himself.
In II Thessalonians 2:3, Paul wrote a prophecy about the false leaders that would emerge in the latter days. In verses 3-4, Paul warned that a “man of sin” or “son of perdition” would emerge “who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God… (emphasis added).” When Pope Francis, a mortal human religious leader, exalts himself into a position where he feels he can deny that the Creator God is a divine being, is he not perilously close to fulfilling this prophetic warning about a religious leader who would emerge in the latter days who would do this type of thing?
Again, I truly hope the new pope was misquoted, and that he did not actually make a statement attacking and denying God’s Divine status. However, all Christians need to watch what Pope Francis says and does in the future. Paul’s prophecy about a “man of sin” and “son of perdition” who will repudiate “all that is called God” also prophesies in II Thessalonians 2:5-15 that this “man of sin” will come with “all deceivableness,” and will lead people into embracing a “strong delusion.” Paul also prophesies this dark figure will eventually come with “all power and signs and lying wonders.” In spite of the displayed powers and signs which this dark figure will do to deceive people into believing his lies, Paul urges latter-day believers to disregard the deceitful teachings of this “man of sin” and “stand fast and hold the traditions which you have been taught.” A belief that the Creator God of the Holy Bible is a Divine Being is certainly a truth to which all Christians should hold fast.
Please understand I’m not yet identifying Pope Francis as the “man of sin” discussed in II Thessalonians and I hope he was misquoted, but we are definitely living in the latter days (see my article, Are We Living in the Biblical Latter Days?), which means that all the latter day prophecies of the Bible are scheduled to be fulfilled in this latter day period of time. We need to be alert and watch closely to look for prophetic fulfillments as they occur. They may be fulfilled in a manner which the world’s media barely notices, so extra effort is needed by Christians to discern the important events of our time.
The last link indicates Pope Francis received significant “push-back,” opposition and dissent from key Catholic leaders when the pope appeared to repudiate long-standing Catholic teachings against homosexuality. I wonder what private conversations are now occurring amongst Catholic cardinals and bishops in response to Pope Francis’ declaration that God is not a divine being?